It’s persimmon season. Did you know that? Have you ever tasted a persimmon? They look like orange tomatoes with floppy hats and they’re almost too sweet to eat. Fortunately, it’s also cranberry season.
I would have offered you a recipe for cranberry sauce with persimmons, but, to be honest, I’ve noticed that everyone’s own recipe for cranberry sauce is the best and I am sure my own mother would chime in here with reasons why I’ve done it wrong. Cranberry sauce is cranberry sauce, so just do what you’ve always done and it will be marvelous, even if all you do is open a can and plonk the stuff onto a plate, can-rings and all. But chutney.
Chutney is something else. It’s far more versatile, and the reason I like it better is that it’s something you can eat with cheese. In these chilly, early-winter months, I like nothing more some nights than to put on a holiday movie and eat a loaf of bread and a bit of very good cheese with warm chutney. A fresh bottle of Beaujolais doesn’t hurt either.
Chutney is sweet and savoury, and goes well with meats and cheeses and fishes, and it’s a lovely colour and a great gift item. People don’t make it like they make jam, so it’s a nice thing to offer as a hostess gift, or to give to someone you quite like. Or, you can make a whole bunch of it and just keep it all for yourself, and that’s fine too. It’s not greedy.
This is my chutney recipe, and it makes somewhere around a ton of the stuff (actual amount: about five cups), but I can it. You don’t have to do that, if you don’t want – just make a little bit and stash it in the fridge if all you want is enough for you. But the ingredients are cheap, especially if you received a bag of glowing orange persimmons from your boss, who received them as a gift from someone’s garden somewhere close by. Even if you didn’t, persimmons are very reasonable. And use rosemary. It’s a December herb – you can even buy it now, tied up like little Christmas trees, each sprig like an exaggerated branch of pine.
Cranberry persimmon chutney
(Makes about five cups.)
- 1 1/2 lbs. diced persimmons
- 1 lb. fresh cranberries
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. orange zest
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice (from one large navel orange)
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (Ooh – or dry red wine!)
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
If you want to can this stuff, use the procedure for shorter time processing at Epicurious. Okay. Good.
So. Heat up your olive oil on high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Stir in your cranberries and persimmons, and reduce to medium. Add orange zest, juice, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, until berries have popped, persimmons have turned to mush, and the whole mixture resembles a loose cranberry sauce. It should not be smooth, however. Nobody ever liked a smooth chutney.
Stir in rosemary, and check your seasonings. I added more pepper, because I like it, and a pinch more salt. You can do whatever you like.
Taste. It’s good, right? I know.
Simmer for five to ten minutes, and then spoon into jars. If not canning using high heat, seal them tightly and throw them in the fridge. If canning, process as usual.
Serve with very good, very creamy cheese. This is a tart, sweet, herbacious thing, and you may be unsure about the combinations at first read, but I promise that once you plop this stuff onto a crusty piece of bread with all that very good cheese (I’m thinking something strong, like Roquefort or Gorgonzola, or something creamy, like Camembert), you’ll see what I mean when I say that this is one of my favourite things, made from a few of my favourite things.
Also, I’m sorry. I’m having a hell of a time trying to upload images, so there aren’t as many pictures this time as I’d have liked. It’s still two weeks until someone comes to install the cables that’ll give us proper Internet. I’m doing what I can with stolen signals. Anyway. Time to go buy some cheese. This chutney’s not going to eat itself, you know.